Running and Strength Training Programs for Beginners

May 6, 2014

Last week, I shared some tips to help you come back from a running break. Once you decide to get back into the swing of things, you obviously need a plan to follow, right? Here are some great resources I’ve found helpful in the past, and hope you will find helpful in the future – both for running and strength training.

Running and Strength for Beginners


Couch 2 5k

This is definitely the quintessential beginner running program – Couch to 5k. It really starts out nice and easy, and has participants running a 5k in just 9 weeks. The commitment is minimal too – 3 days a week, around 20-30 minutes per session. The program also has an app users can put on their phone for motivation and easy documentation. If you are looking for something a little bit further in distance, they also offer the Couch to 10k program as well.

This 8 Week 5k plan

I think this plan to be very simple, very cut and dry. There is nothing fancy about it, but it definitely gets the job done. It includes a lot of run/walk intervals and ample rest days as well, which is the best way to populate a beginner running plan.

Hal Higdon

This plan is not quite as beginner as the others, but it is still a great place to start. You should enter the half marathon plan with a base of about 4 miles max, and the marathon program with a base of about 8 miles for your long run. Both types of novice plans have nice, gradual climbs, which are great for someone who may not know how to train for this type of distance. For my very first marathon back in 2008, this is the plan I used. It was very manageable to follow.


Here is my shameless plug. I write training plans for every type of distance and goal, completely tailored to your running ability. If you are interested in a running coach, lets chat J. I’m also a certified personal trainer and do online training plans as well.

Strength Training

Jamie Eason Live Fit

This is a 12 week program, broken out into 3 separate phases. The first phase is strength only (no cardio!). The second phase introduces the cardio component, and then the third phase brings in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). There is also nutrition advice in the form of whole foods and supplements. This is a very well rounded plan, but may not be great if you are short on time. It asks for a commitment of 5-6 days a week, which just isn’t possible for some people. You also need to be in a gym, so out home workouts just don’t show up in this series like some others. However, this plan does tell you what to do each and every day, so for those people who really need something to follow – this plan is a great option.

Nike Training Club

This is a very popular app that you may have already heard of (and used!) but I still feel like it is worth mentioning. It offers 100+ full-body workouts and also allows you to keep track the workouts you do right in the app. There are different goals – Get Lean, Get Toned Get Strong, and Get Focused, so you can choose your workout based on what you are working towards. Within the goals are different levels as well – beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The user is able to either look at photos of the exercises, or download the videos right to their phone. This program is great for people looking for variety, and who want a quick and effective workout.

Fitness Blender

This is an amazing YouTube channel! It is, without a doubt, my favorite way to workout at home. There are videos that are nice and short in length, and then some a little closer to an hour long. The hosts walk you through each exercise. The exercises are effective and the moves are not the generic ones you may find with some other workout videos. This can be more cardio heavy in some of the videos, so just be sure to search for the more strength based workouts.

Gorilla Workout

This is a great app to checkout. It is perfect for the person looking for a great workout, but doesn’t have access to the equipment. None of the workouts require any sort of equipment, and do a great job of combining cardio and strength training. The app itself costs $.99, and then individual workouts also cost the same. If you compare this to a gym membership, it will probably end up costing you the same amount as 1 month at a gym. There are also 4 different fitness levels you can work off of, so you will not be thrown into something completely out of your league.

Muscle and Strength Workout

This program is more traditional in the sense that you will need a gym to complete the workouts. It is also a 12 week program, aiming to build muscle and lose fat. There is a combination of full body workouts, along with those aiming to work specific areas on specific days.

What workout programs do you like?

5 Tips To Come Back Strong From A Running Break

May 2, 2014

I have a small confession to make – I’ve never had to really “get back in shape”. I’ve been extremely active my entire life, so one sport pretty much just rolled into another. I played basketball when I was young, which involved tons of running, so that translated nicely to running cross-country – which then rolled into track – and back to cross-country. You get the picture.

Taking 6 weeks off after having Grant was my longest break – ever. The most I have ever taken off is 2 weeks after marathons. Otherwise, I have been blessed to have never had season ending injuries or anything like that. If I was injured, I would still cross train intensely, so my fitness stayed intact. Starting from (what I consider as) scratch has been very eye-opening. I figured there are plenty of other women in my same shoes – coming back to exercise after a baby. I want to share my tips of what I have learned (so far) about coming back to exercise after a break.

Set a Few Goals

I think having something to look forward to relating to exercise makes a big difference. I am not talking about setting any pie in the sky goals either – maybe its your local 5k, or even just getting out 3-4 days a week and putting that well-earned check mark in your calendar. Having a goal of running for 60 solid minutes by the end of the month is keeping me accountable to my workouts. I want to make sure I have a decent base before the crazy heat of the summer hits Florida in full force.

Take it Slow

As much as I would like to think taking a few weeks off isn’t a big deal, I’d be completely lying to myself. According to the Competitor Group, an athlete’s VO2 Max (the largest amount of oxygen your body can use while exercising) decreases 7% in the 12 to 21 days of a break from exercise. After day 21, it decreases by another 9%. Those are some pretty substantial numbers.

What do those numbers mean? You lose fitness pretty quickly, so take it easy when returning to exercise. It is going to be tough coming back, both mentally and physically. That “easy 3-miler” you are so used to could very well turn into a 2 mile run walk, where you feel pretty spent after. That’s ok. You will get your fitness back. Really, its true.

Bob Stroller Running

Know it Will Feel Different        

This really applies to those coming back to exercise after having a baby, more so than those coming back after taking a break for other reasons. When you get the 6 week exercise clearance, your body is still recovering from birth. Your hips will be a bit wider (still!) and you are probably still carrying around some extra baby weight. Know that the first few runs will probably be a little uncomfortable. Remember, discomfort is ok, but you should not be in true pain. If you are, then you should take some more time off to let your body heal.

I remember feeling the presence of the incision from my c-section for about a week when I got back to running. It didn’t hurt, it was just a different feeling than I was used to. My insides were literally moved around to get Grant out. I was sure to take it nice and easy, stopping to walk when needed, and not worrying about the time allotted or distance covered. Just getting out to move at that point was a big win in my book.

Schedule Time to Get in Your Session

Exercise doesn’t happen based on hopes and dreams. You need to be sure to schedule when it is going to happen, or you may never get out the door. Here is what has been working lately for me. On weekdays, I get up and go for my run before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, usually bringing Winnie with me, since she has to be walked anyhow (I am blessed with a great sleeping baby, so I feel good to get up early).I choose the early morning because Grant is still fast asleep, so I know he is all set. Then, on the weekend, I get out for another run all by myself on one of the two days – no dog, no jogging stroller – just me and the road. I know I will be active these days, and so does my husband. Being on the same page with this makes it easy for me to spend some time for myself.


Plenty of people are just not friends with the pre-dawn hours, which is a-ok. Grab the jogging stroller and get in some time after you get home from work, or during the day if you are a stay at home mom. Just because you want to exercise doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend time away from your baby – incorporate your baby in your routine. If you don’t have kids, schedule time in your calendar and go straight from the office to your gym or other running destination.

Be Patient

As much as I would like to say my fitness is back in full swing and I am feeling better than ever, I just can’t. It’s been 3 weeks since I have been back running, and I am still struggling. I have run 5 miles one time, and everything else has been in the 3-4 mile range. My pace is drastically slower than I am used to. The best part of all of this is that it is no big deal. I have plenty of time to ease back into everything.

My last long “ish” run was last Memorial Day with my friend Meg. We ran 7 miles around the 8 minute pace range. Since then, I haven’t run anything over 5 miles. In between naps, snuggles with Grant, and spending time with Marcus, my fitness will come back. No worries there.

A big reminder I keep in the back of my mind is to not feel guilty about getting in a sweat session a few times a week. It is incredibly important for both my physical and mental well-being to spend a few hours not having to worry about a to-do list, diaper changes, or my next breast-feeding session.

And because no post is complete these days without a picture of this little guy…

Grant smiling_April27


What tips do you have when coming back from a break?

Grant: 2 Months

April 29, 2014

Guess who’s 2 months old. I’ll give you a hint – a very happy and active baby!

Grant 2 months


Grant hit the 2 month mark this past Sunday. Oh what a month it has been! He is nothing short of amazing, in every way possible. He is smiling like crazy these days, and even is giving us a few giggles here and there. He is such a mild mannered little guy. We have really learned to distinguish between his little cries, which makes life so easy. As long as he is fed, dry, and well rested, he is consistently happy. We really feel so lucky with his easy-going personality. Let’s hope it sticks around.

Weight and Height

I am going to have to come and update these later. His 2 month appointment isn’t until this Friday, so we don’t have his updated stats. All I know – he is growing like a weed! He is so much longer than he was at 4 weeks, and he really is starting to fill out! Just look at those cheeks from month 1 to month 2. Such a difference!

1 to 2 month Grant comparison



He is an amazing sleeper! He naps every day from 1-4 or so, and then naps on and off at other times. I put him on a schedule very early on, and he really has continued to stick to it. His firm schedule during the day makes him really great at night. He has slept all the way through once, and then only wakes up once between 3:30am-4am on the other nights. He is up for about 20 minutes to eat, and then falls right back to bed. My life is much easier with this great predictability (for now at least!).

Grant 2 Months


He is still eating 7 times a day, 5-6 ounces at a time. He eats in a flash too – it’s pretty unusual if he nurses longer than 15 minutes. Grant is still eating breastmilk for 100% of his calories, which I plan to continue to do as long as I possibly can. I love the time we spend together nursing – far more than I ever thought I would. There is something about a little baby gazing into your eyes as they eat – its pretty amazing.

Grant 2 months


Grant is comfortably in his 3 month clothes now. He can honestly still fit in the newborn onesies, as long as they aren’t the footie PJ’s. He has some pretty big feet! They are getting a little snug, so I’ve just transitioned him to the 3 month clothes. He has some room to grow into them, so I am sure he will be wearing them for a while. He is also still in his size one diapers – they are fitting perfectly still.

Everything Else

One big thing, as I am sure you’ve noticed from the pictures, is Grant’s movement. He is always moving his little hands like crazy! It just cracks me up! He still LOVES taking baths, and swinging in his swing. One of his most favorite activities is listening to his daddy play the guitar. He just dances away the whole time – its probably one of my favorite things to watch.

The coos and little noises he makes are really starting to stand out. I don’t know if there is anything cuter than a baby coo. He has me wrapped around his little finger – that’s for sure! His grandparents love every minute they spend with him, and I know he does too! It is so much fun to see loved ones interact with him. He is a lucky guy to have so many amazing people that love him so much.

Over the weekend, we went to the beach with him for the first time. Don’t worry – he was in the sling for the duration of our visit, with me completely protecting him from the sun by way of an umbrella and sunglasses. No sunburns allowed for this sweet baby! He’ll put his tiny toes in the sand one of these days.

Grant Beach Day

Grant 1st beach trip


I still can’t believe it has been 2 months already. What an amazing two months it has been! I can’t wait for what each and every day has in store for us.

The adventure into parenthood is an absolute blast!




A Few Tips for Newborn Photo Shoots

April 25, 2014

Newborn photo shoots produce the most amazing photos of little ones. They always look so cute and cuddly! The actual session itself – well, its a little different than you think. Many hospitals have the option of getting them done in house before you are discharged. There are many photographers who will come and take photos at your home. Then, there is the option of going into a studio, which is the option we chose. Here are a few things to keep in mind when scheduling and attending your newborn photo shoot.

It’s Going to be Warm

Naked babies and air conditioning just don’t mix. To keep them comfy cozy, our photographer kept the studio at 80 degrees. It was hot, hot, hot for us, but perfect for Grant. Wear something cool, unless the photographer suggests otherwise. Make sure to bring a bottle of water as well. Your hormones are already going crazy and making you warm, so the heated room on top of that could make you feel a little rough if you aren’t prepared for it.

Grant newborn

You Will Get Pooped (or Pee’d) On.

This is pretty much inevitable. With a naked baby comes all of the other fun too. When we went for Grant’s session, I was pooped on once, and pee’d on twice. It just happens. Bring a change of clothes (or two).

Grant newborn

Pick a Seasoned Photographer

Not only is Nicole an amazing family photographer, but she is amazing with animals as well. Before photographing families, she used to capture any and everything having to do with family pets. Hence, why we were able to get this amazing shot with Winnie.

Winnie and Grant newborn

The Younger, the Better

To get the babies in the adorable little poses and have them stay still, they need to be fast asleep. In that first week, all they do is snooze (pretty much), so that window is key. Do your research well before your baby is due so you can have time scheduled with your photographer. I called Nicole as soon as we got back from the hospital, and we scheduled our session for later that week.

Grant newborn


Give Yourself Plenty of Time

Our newborn session was the first time we left the house with Grant, so we had no clue what we were doing. We were pretty much guessing what we needed to bring, how long it would take us to do everything, and how he would be acting that day. We also had to get ready for photos ourselves, so it was a hectic morning to say the least. Pick a time in the late morning or early afternoon so you have ample time to get done what you need to. The first few times getting out of the house takes a lot longer than you might think.

Grant newborn


Go With the Flow

Our session lasted about 2 hours between all of the shots, cleaning him (and us!) up after he went to the bathroom, and of course, feeding him as well. It does take a while to get everything done, so just be flexible. It makes the experience a lot more enjoyable.

Grant newborn


Just in case you are wondering the photographer we chose is Nicole Geller in Tampa. We went ahead and got a package with 3 different photo sessions in Grant’s first year, so we will be having more photos in the next few months. I can’t wait :)

Grant newborn


If you had a newborn session what was it like? Would you want to have photos taken when your baby is a newborn?


It’s Marathon Monday!

April 21, 2014

Today is the most fun Monday of the year. Good luck to those running the 2014 Boston Marathon! Can’t wait to run it again in the next few years!

2014 B.A.A. 5K